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How can you increase the chance people will like the gifts you give them?

Gift wrap them:

In four experiments, I examined the effects of gift wrapping on product attitudes. Two questions were addressed. First, does gift wrapping an item have a favorable influence on attitudes toward owning what is received? Results of all four experiments consistently support an affirmative answer to that question. Second, what explains the attitudinal results? I argued that gift wrapping, through repeated pairing with joyous events in people’s lives, has utility in cuing a happy mood which, in turn, positively biases attitudes. Results of the last three experiments support this mood biasing position by demonstrating that a happy mood consistently mediates gift-wrapping effects on attitudes. The results are consistent with an encoding specificity view of mood retrieval and a mood maintenance explanation of attitude formation. The encoding specificity view was supported by finding stronger effects of gift wrapping on mood retrieval in conditions arguably present when the relation between gift wrapping and happy mood was established in the lives of subjects, such as the receipt of a personal gift (Experiment 2), the receipt of a gift wrapped in traditional gift-wrapping paper (Experiment 3), and the receipt of a gift-wrapped present on subjects’ birthdays (Experiment 4). The mood maintenance process was supported by finding parallel effects of gift wrapping on mood and attitude and by finding the mediational effects of happy mood on attitude strengthened as subjects felt happier. These results are consistent with the premise that the happier the mood, the more subjects sought to maintain that state through the development of favorable attitudes toward owning the gift they received.

Source: “Gift-Wrapping Effects on Product Attitudes: A Mood-Biasing Explanation” from Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1992

Hat tip: The Guardian via David Curran

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About Eric Barker